Congressmen support the abolition of the hated Priority Development Assistance Fund (or so they say), but—and this is a big but—they worry they will no longer be able to extend assistance to the sick in their district or continue their free college scholarship program.
These legislators are just fishing for sympathy (and who knows? support for the restoration of the pork barrel), but nobody’s biting. They can no longer divert funds in the name of farmers and fishermen. So it is the sick and poor students this time.
As Jograd dela Torre sings in “Kawatan”, buking, buking [na kasi].
Twelve senators and at least a hundred congressmen were found to have funneled their pork barrel allocations to sham non-government organizations (NGOs) ostensibly to help the poor and calamity victims.
It turns out that the NGOs are fake and the projects exist only on paper.
Pork barrel allocations go to finance the lavish lifestyle of legislators. Meanwhile, the poor in whose names the money was disbursed huddle in makeshift houses, go to sleep on an empty stomach, and sometimes die for lack of medicine.
A total of P12 billion has been dissipated this way over a ten-year period.
One congressman announced, with a straight face, that a constituent of his had died because he could no longer pay for the man’s dialysis following the discontinuation of his pork barrel allocation. If we remember it right until the PDAF disbursement was suspended, the congressman received P70 million every year, or P210 million in his three-year term, and he allowed a supporter to die for lack of money to pay for dialysis?
Practically all senators and congressmen have free scholarship programs for poor but deserving students. It’s all smoke and mirrors though. Otherwise, all graduating high school students, at least the top ten in their class, would be able to go to college.
A legislator would crow about his scholars, even provide the media a list, if that were true. The fact, however, is that tens of thousands graduate every year, but we do not hear of young people getting a college degree on a scholarship provided by a senator or a congressman.
In an interview with the media, a congresswoman said that without PDAF people should not expect dole-outs from her because her family work hard for their money and they intend to use it only for their children. That means she had been disbursing funds from her PDAF allocation. Now she could only do that by converting that allocation into cash, and as whistle blowers tell us the way to do it is to finance non-existent projects set up by non-existent NGOs. Since everything exists only on paper, the legislators—congressmen and senators—get the total cost of the project, after deducting the share of the fake NGO owner.
Let’s not even talk about graft and corruption here. That is outright thievery. But granting the practice is necessary, though it is clearly a crime, to give congressmen the funds they need to defray the expenses of the poor and the sick in the district, could we trust them to distribute the money?
Of course, we understand the congresswoman’s plight. She has been elected to enact laws (although we haven’t heard of a bill she has introduced or sponsored), not to take care of the sick or send poor children to school. But if we may remind the lady legislator, Christians—and we assume she is one—are required to help the downtrodden.
In Mathew 25:31, Jesus Christ, on the Day of Judgment, will tell the righteous: “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink.”
And PDAF has nothing to do with it.